A true friend of football: MPs salute Alan Keen

Alan Keen was paid gushing tribute by those across the political spectrum today.
Alan Keen was paid gushing tribute by those across the political spectrum today.

By Ian Dunt

MPs issued heartfelt tributes to their colleague Alan Keen today, after he passed away following a "heroic fight" with cancer.

Labour's Feltham and Heston MP was chairman of parliament's all-party football group and spent the 18 years before coming to Westminster as a scout for Middlesbrough football club.

“Alan was great friend to me," Ed Miliband said.

"He was a great believer in the power of sport to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds make the best of their lives."

Gordon Brown said: "I salute his bravery in facing cancer – fighting it as long as he could - and he will be remembered as someone who taught us how to fight illness."

Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris said Mr Keen was "a top man and true friend of football in the House of Commons".

Louise Mensch tweeted: "His passionate love of football shone out all through our recent inquiry into the sport's governance. He loved life and was a wonderful man."

Mr Keen was brought up in Grangetown and Redcar in the north-east of England. He served in the army for three years before acting as a football scout for his club, Middlesbrough FC, for 18 years, working with Jackie Charlton.

With over 150 members, he turned the all-party football group into one of the most influential all-party groups in parliament, conducting two inquiries into English football and its governance.

Even in his later life, he played five-a-side football every Tuesday without fail.

The death triggers a by-election in Feltham and Heston which Labour should have little difficulty holding given its current 43.6% majority.

Conservative candidate Mark Bowen won 16,516 votes at the general election, compared to Mr Keen's 21,174.


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